Pets In The Classroom Program Exceeds First Year Expectations

The Pet Care Trust is pleased to announce that the Pets in the Classroom Program saw surprising growth in 2010. The program awarded 2,060 grants to teachers in 2010, its first full year of operation. With an average of 30 students per classroom, the program has brought pets into the lives of almost 62,000 children. Some of these children may have no other contact with a pet except in their classroom. In many cases, it could be the beginning of a lifelong interest in pets and pet care.

Pets in the Classroom is an educational grants program supporting responsible pet care for school classrooms. Sponsored by the Pet Care Trust, the goal of the program is to establish healthy child-pet relationships at an early age by supporting responsible pet care in Kindergarten-6th Grade classrooms across the U.S. and Canada. Many school teachers have very limited resources for the support of classroom animals. The Pet Care Trust sponsors this program to help teachers purchase or maintain pets in the classroom through direct, no-hassle grants. The program leaves it up to the teacher to select the pet that is most appropriate for her/his classroom. There have been a wide variety of funding requests, from snakes and lizards to guinea pigs and rabbits, proving that many different species provide interesting classroom companions.

As of December, 2010, 2,066 certificates were granted totaling nearly $264,000. . The programs initial goal for the year of 700 grant requests was far exceeded. Pets in the Classroom has funded the following classroom pet requests:

Aquariums- 761
Reptiles- 435
Small Animals- 737
Birds- 93
Sustaining- 40 (These grants help teachers who already have a classroom pet with food and supplies).

The program hopes to fund an additional 2,000 classroom grants in 2011. All funding for Pets in the Classroom has come from the Pet Care Trust endowment. As the program expands to reach more elementary school classrooms across the country, the program will rely on direct financial support from the pet industry. Pets in the Classroom welcomes support from corporate and individual donors through tax deductible contribution to the Pet Care Trust. Visit the Trust website today at www.petcartrust.org.

Helping Your Dog Get Along With Other Family Pets

If you have, or are planning to have, a multi-pet household, one of the first things to consider will be the breed of dog you want. Some breeds of dog are friendlier than other breeds and include poodles, beagles, cavalier spaniels, and retrievers. These breeds, among many others, will be more likely to accept another dog or pet in the home, while other breeds may present some problems. Always remember that all dogs are individuals and you will find variation in personality in all breeds.

Some dog breeds were developed to participate in dog fights and these breeds may be best in single-pet households – pit bulldog, Tosa, Fila Brasileiro, and Akita are all dog breeds that have a high level of dog-to-dog aggression, and they are often aggressive to other pets as well.

While some hunting dogs, such as Labrador or Golden Retrievers are calm dogs that will accept all pets, some breeds still have a high prey drive and will hunt and chase smaller pets in the home, such as cats, rabbits, and Guinea pigs. Afghan hounds and Dachshunds will never be trustworthy around smaller pets, and this should not be held against them, it is simply their innate nature.

If you are bringing a dog into a household where there are already cats, or are adopting a cat, you should remember that the cat will probably be terrified of the dog, regardless of the dog’s docility. Some dogs have absolutely no interest in bothering cats, while others will look forward to a good chase. However, except in extreme cases, it shouldn’t be difficult to get your dog and cat to at least be respectful of one another.

A puppy, naturally, will be easier to train to accept a cat. Because the personality of the pup is still developing, familiarity with cats at an early age will lessen the chances that the adult dog will act aggressively towards them.

Regardless of the age of your dog, however, keep the dog and cat separated to begin with. The cat will probably be frightened of the dog and must be allowed to become accustomed gradually to it. Keeping the animals in separate rooms, but allowing them to sniff at one another through a gate is a good way to promote tolerance, and hopefully friendship.

When the cat and dog actually meet face to face, have both of them on a leash, they will be much easier to control. Make sure that you reward with treats for good behavior, and don’t bother yelling if things go wrong, it will only make the situation more emotionally charged.

If the pets involved will be two dogs, keep in mind that dogs of the same sex are less likely to get along than opposites. A male and a female dog will be more likely to become friends than two females, and two males may actually fight.

The size of the dog will also have a bearing on how the adjustment will go, regardless of whether you are introducing a puppy or kitten. Regardless of how friendly and tolerant the dog may be, large or giant dogs can inadvertently harm smaller pets when trying to play with them.

Dogs can be taught to accept and even be friendly to ferrets, birds, rabbits, and other small pets, but still should never be left alone with them. You should always cage small animals if they are going to be alone with the dog when you are not present.

As it has been scientifically proven that dogs have the same set of emotions that humans do, and that their brains respond in the same way, it’s not too surprising that jealousy is among the emotions dogs can feel. Dogs have been living with humans for tens of thousands of years and have shaken off much of their old canine loyalties and transferred them to people.

Some dogs are so attached to their owners that they will even be jealous of inanimate objects, in much the same way that a child may become jealous of the telephone if mother talks on it too much. Never make light of jealousy in a dog, especially in a large breed, as it can result in attacks on people or other pets.

Pets In The Classroom Program Enhances Curriculum

Having a classroom pet fosters skills like responsibility, nurturing and teamwork. Children develop a sense of respect for living creatures and a connection to the natural world. But, a classroom pet also provides countless ways to enhance curriculum in creative ways. Teachers have told Pets in the Classroom that they are amazed at how their students” interactions with their classroom pet inspire learning and creativity across numerous disciplines. With a little brainstorming and student input, teachers can transform their students” enthusiasm for the classroom pet into enthusiasm for science, language arts, math and fine arts.

Science is probably the first subject that comes to mind when thinking of integrating your classroom pet into the curriculum. Students can use the basic principles of science to observe, measure and record information about the classroom pet. Students can measure the pet”s size and weight, track growth, and record behavior patterns. Learning units of measurement can be fun when the class guinea pig is measured in centimeters and inches, and weight converted from pounds to ounces. Research your pet”s natural habitat, adaptation and diet, as well as how your pet grows and develops. What features are unique to reptiles, amphibians or fish? How does a baby bird develop in the egg and what happens after it hatches? The possibilities are endless.

Taking your students on a trip to the library is a great way to spark an interest in reading. You”ll find a wide variety of books – fiction and non-fiction- based on your classroom pet for students to take home and share with their family. They”ll get an early start on doing research and have fun finding new stories of animals just like theirs. If you haven”t selected your classroom pet yet, researching the various possibilities makes a wonderful classroom project that all of the students can contribute to. A classroom pet research project incorporates several different valuable learning skills, such as working within a group, researching, analysis of data and coming to a conclusion, as well as writing and creative skills. Students can also enhance their presentation skills by presenting their project to the classroom.

Teachers find that students love to write about their new “friend”, the classroom pet. Harness your students” fascination with your pet by having them write their own stories about the pet. Have them tell how they”d spend a day out with their new friend, or write daily journal entries about its life in the classroom. Stories about your classroom pet can be compiled into a special book to be shared with family and other classrooms. Weekly vocabulary lists can include words that pertain to your pet.

Creativity can blossom through art as well. Students love to express their feelings for classroom pets through art. Try having them create an image with markers or crayons and another with paint. Experimenting with different materials is a great way to get your students familiar with art. Another great creative project is to have your students create collages of pictures and facts about their animal. This is a great way for them to express themselves while having fun incorporating information about their new friend.

These are just a few of the ways a classroom pet can enhance the curriculum and inspire learning through a child”s special bond with an animal.